Facebook adds story bumping - makes sure you never miss a post

Facebook adds story bumping - makes sure you never miss a post
Older is better for Facebook

At an event today, with TechRadar in attendance, Facebook revealed some of its processes on how it ranks the stories in your News Feed and announced it's adding something called 'story bumping' to how the feed works.

Admitting that when Facebook started News Feed seven years ago, the ranking of stories was an almost manual process, the company explained that the process of bubbling relevant stories to the top of your feed has gone through a number of changes.

According to Chris Cox, VP of product at Facebook, an algorithm is applied to stories that ranks them based on how many views, likes and shares a story has received.

"Shares are going to be more interested than comments, which are in turn more interesting and valuable than likes, and these are seen to more interesting than clicks," Cox explained.

He went on to note that there is a constant battle when it comes to Facebook, with those that read posts and those that publish them.

"On the consumer side, there is some amount of attention that will be invested in News Feed and these people don't want to miss anything important from a friend.

"On the other side, there are publishers wondering why their content isn't being seen all of the time. We are in the process of making sure that there is consistency."

New old news

This consistency is ultimately down to Lars Backstrom, Engineer, News Feed Ranking, from Facebook who said about the current process: "We are trying to create a personalised newspaper for users and customise the newsfeed experience for what they want to see.

"The model we currently use is a ranking process for stories, by taking all the stories when you last visited and assign them a score – the higher the score the better, the lower we might not show you at all.

"You want the best things above the fold [before you have to scroll], that you will want to see then the others below. We think a lot on how you should see the most relevant content and that is by putting things at the top."

The problem with this is that unseen stories are sometimes missed because of the algorithm.

Backstrom revealed that the average users gets some 1,500 posts a day that have to be filtered through Facebook's processes, ultimately meaning that older articles would tend to be missed. This is something that will change with story bumping.

The service took numerous months and three engineers to perfect and has been beta tested by 80 percent of Facebook employees for a number of weeks.

"It is really hard for users to get back to old stories. You have to scroll through a whole lot of things to get to content you might have missed.

"So we thought about how we should fix this. And we decided to put older stories above the fold when you log on.

"Now we are not just taking the stories that are new but the stories that are new to the user. We have built a new service to keep track of what people have actually seen and have added this algorithm to our process."

According to Backstrom, the beta test pushed stories read on the site to 70 percent - it is currently at 57 percent. The story bumping won't have anything to do with ads, according to Facebook, as it is an entirely separate system.

The change won't affect the total stories in your feed, but will hopefully bring older content you haven't seen to you.

Marc Chacksfield

Marc Chacksfield is the Editor In Chief, Shortlist.com at DC Thomson. He started out life as a movie writer for numerous (now defunct) magazines and soon found himself online - editing a gaggle of gadget sites, including TechRadar, Digital Camera World and Tom's Guide UK. At Shortlist you'll find him mostly writing about movies and tech, so no change there then.